The former head of the Israel Bar Association, Efi Nave, filed a police complaint Sunday demanding an investigation into how an Army Radio reporter obtained his private telephone and then extracted possibly incriminating messages from it relating to an alleged sex scandal that has rocked the judiciary system.
The complaint also claimed that due to the illegal circumstances under which the phone was received and hacked, all evidence gathered should be inadmissible in court.
Nave resigned as chairman of the Israel Bar Association last week following his arrest and interrogation by police investigators on suspicion of having advanced judicial appointments in exchange for sexual favors.
Police reportedly acted after being tipped off by Army Radio veteran journalist Hadas Shtaif who received the phone, apparently arranged for it to be hacked, and then reviewed its contents. What she found led her to hand the phone over to police who then opened an investigation.
Boaz Ben Zur, an attorney acting on behalf of Nave, sent the complaint to the head of the police national fraud investigation division. “Taking the device, breaking into and leaking material from it all constitute clear criminal offenses that require police investigation,” he wrote.
The police complaint was filed against various figures at the Army Radio station including Shtaif.
“The investigation into our client was opened after Army Radio reporter Hadas Shtaif illegally received the device,” Ben Zur noted according to Hadashot TV news.
“Taking the phone, hacking it, receiving it and holding on to it, reviewing it and leaking materials from it — all these are clear criminal offenses which require police investigation,” he noted.
“This course of events polluted the entire investigation, from top to bottom,” the complaint continued. “All the evidence which arose as a result of the illegal behavior should not be accepted by the court.”
Boaz called for an immediate investigation “in light of the tremendous damage these crimes are causing to our client.”
On Friday police said that all evidence from the phone was properly acquired with court approval.
“All the relevant investigative activities were done lawfully, while balancing between the different interests concerning the case,” police said.
The Haaretz daily reported last week that the State Prosecutor granted Shtaif immunity from prosecution. Military prosecutors who advise the radio station were initially worried that she may have broken the law, but after consulting with state prosecutors it was decided to use the information from the phone due to its importance to the public, the report said. Haaretz also said the phone was an old device of Nave’s.
On Friday a law enforcement source told Hadashot that none of the evidence or testimony police have gathered so far has dispelled the suspicions against the key suspects.
The source said investigators have obtained additional material, aside from that from confiscated phones or computers, and the new material strengthens the suspicions.
Nave was arrested on Wednesday and questioned by police investigators for allegedly nominating a female judge to a magistrate’s court several years ago in exchange for sexual favors.
He is also suspected of having sexual relations with the wife of another judge, for the purpose of helping her husband advance from a magistrate’s court to a district court position — a promotion that never came through.
As head of the Bar Association, Nave held one of nine seats on the powerful Judicial Appointments Committee, which decides on placement and promotions for judges in Israel’s three-tiered judicial system. The position gave him an outsize voice in helping jurists advance in their careers, a role police suspect he exploited for sex.
A judge released Nave to house arrest late Wednesday, rejecting a police request to hold him in custody for three days.
Two other suspects were questioned on Wednesday, a female magistrate’s court judge and a female lawyer, police said, clearing for publication some details of the case, much of which remains under gag order.
The judge who was questioned will reportedly take a leave of absence.
In addition, a legal intern was questioned on Friday by police amid suspicions that Nave helped her pass the bar exam and find a job in exchange for sex, Hebrew-language media reported at the time.
The affairs follows closely on the heels of another scandal for Nave, who was indicted last month on suspicion that he smuggled a female acquaintance out of the country for a trip abroad and then tried to slip her back unregistered through border control.